Councilwoman: Penny tax increase can help fund county transit

By Jackie Faye - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Council is looking to add a penny to your sales tax inside the county on top of the 6 percent statewide sales tax to help fund the mass transit system.

"We are looking at so many projects that we can do with this penny," said Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson.

Dickerson says the money would be used to improve transportation.

"We're looking at roads," said Dickerson. "Richland County has 250 miles of roads and it would take us 150 years to pave all those roads."

Apart from up keeping the roads, the tax would also help improve sidewalks, bridges, bike lanes, and the bus system.

"Well, in terms of public transportation, it will allow the transit system to continue to operate," said Mitzi Javers, the executive Director of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority. "We only have funding to carry us through June 30, 2011."

Javers says if the penny tax passes, their buses will have farther reach and be able to run more often. But without the tax, the situation looks far more dire.

"The transit system will be forced to reduce services by as much as 90 percent and virtually become non-existent," said Javers.

The tax won't just be paid by those who live in Richland County, it will be paid by anyone who shops there.

"That is the beauty of this whole thing is sharing the load so Richland County residents will not just be sharing it all by themselves," said Dickerson. "It's people who will come in and spend money will help to improve and enhance our transit system."

Transportation is now funded by a vehicle tax. If the penny tax passes, Dickerson says the County hopes to get rid of that tax. The penny tax has passed two readings. If it passes a third reading, it will be put in the hands of the voters come November.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.